Stone Cold Stunner (Jack Garratt, Phase review)
It’s just a phase, it’ll pass, I promise. That’s what they tell you when you’re growing up, anyway. Then you learn that adults tell you those things to keep you quiet and to simplify a subject far more complex than their tired minds are willing to handle.
Well no longer, dear readers. This week’s featured artist is all about that phase. In fact, I think he’s embraced the unknown and tackled the obvious to create something interesting. Shall we?
Jack Garratt – Phase
released February 19, 2016
Jack Garratt is a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who just released his debut album.
Jack is something of a musical swiss-army knife: dubstep, garage rock, ballads, dance, R&B, dream pop, trip hop, electronica, indie pop, gospel, acoustic, and blues all fuse together. Garratt says it best himself.
Pick apart the pieces you left
Don’t you worry about it, don’t you worry about it
Try and give yourself some rest
And let me worry about it, let me worry about it
At just 24 years old, he’s managed to make a name for himself already, touring with Mumford and Sons last year, and winning both the BRITs’ Critics’ Choice Award and BBC Sound of 2016 poll this year. Which is something that recent Oscar winner Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding and Adele have all accomplished too. This should tell you something right out of the gate, this artist is making pop music that is both in the present and oddly experimental.
I’ve read a few other reviewers compare him to Ed Sheeran and describe it as generic pop, albeit more rough around the edges, a confusing oxymoron. And while I “kinda” like that Ed Sheeran comparison, I think a better one is this – dubstep sprinkled electronica meets proper pop production.
You see, Garratt has an incredible voice which is demonstrated very clearly in the closing track My House Is Your Home. And then applied in interesting ways on both Weathered and Surprise Yourself. Where I get excited is when he starts to combine this ability with his sampling and production talents.
Then we get to experience the life-giving opener Coalesce (Synesthesia pt.II), Worry, and Chemical, the last of which I’ve taken the liberty of including some sample lyrics from below. We get excited for the dichotomy he is creating between raw blues and refined electro pop.
My love is chemical, shallow and chauvinistic
It’s an arrogant display
So don’t try to reason with my love
Well shit. That’s good right?
What is so surprising is that a sound so rich and varied in it’s musical sources would be backed by a label like Island Records. It’s not often that artists get to break ground and create self-contained musical systems in these types of environments, but again, like Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, and Adele before him, Garratt is epitomizing the shift in pop music culture. Maturity and craft are the order of the day, we are entering a renaissance for this kind of sound.
And maybe that’s where the generic sound comes in? He is simultaneously defining and perpetuating a sound.
Granted, the album is not perfect. Sometimes the sounds don’t mesh well together, but holy Moses, when they do, like a puppy dog that’s torn up your garbage can or a charming lover that ate your last ice cream, it’s easier to forgive Garratt and celebrate his experiments. And if Ellie Goulding is gonna cover his songs, he has to be at least worth a listen or two…
So check out Weathered, Breath Life, and Chemical dear readers, and don’t you worry about it, Jack Garratt’s got phasers set to stun.
I hope Jack Garratt isn’t just the flavour of the week, and all my theories on him pan out. But either way, this is a fun and enjoyable record and I think you’ll get a lot out of it. And even if it’s just a phase, this too shall pass and give way to another review.